Friday, April 27, 2012

Angels Off to a Terrible Start

 Big things are expected in Anaheim after they spent $330 million on the CJ Wilson and Albert Pujols contracts. Granted the season is early and its still April, but they are off to a 6-13 start and are already 9 games behind the Texas Rangers in the American League West. That is the farthest back of any team and its only the end of April.  Pujols is off to the worst start of his career, batting only .224 with a .280 On base pct. Pujols has also went 82 plate appearances without a home run. He got off to a slow start last year as well, but not this bad. After 19 games last year, Pujols was batting .247 with a .314 OBP, 6 home runs, and 14 RBIs. He didn't fully lock in until the second half in 2011.

After a 0 for 21 stretch, Pujols finally got a hit in yesterday's game against the Rays. He was then thrown out trying to stretch it to a double. The Rays ended up coming back from behind to win and swept the Angels. The pressure of living up to the contract could be getting to him, or its possible he realizes he made a mistake signing with the Angels. Not being used to American League pitchers could also have something to do with it as well. The Angels don't have as good of a complementary cast of hitters like the Cardinals do either.

I do expect Pujols to snap out of it, but he may never again be the hitter he was between 2001 and 2010. Since winning back to back MVPs in 2008 and 2009, Pujols numbers have slipped a bit. His average, OBP, and slugging pct. dropped in 2010 and quite a bit more in 2011. At the end of the year, Pujols will still probably have a good season but nowhere near the level he once was. Pujols also still deals with a partially torn UCL, which he has had to have cleanup surgery twice for in past offseasons. He has had the condition since 2003, but has been able to avoid Tommy John surgery to repair it fully. Pujols also deals with plantar fasciitis, a injury that slowed Mark McGwire and Frank Thomas later in their careers. Glad the Angels signed him to a ten year deal instead of the Cardinals.

This a team with alot of talent, but a somewhat poorly constructed team. They had to move power hitting youngster Mark Trumbo from first to make room for Pujols. They've tried him at third, but he's made 3 errors in 4 games there. Weak hitting Alberto Callaspo and utilityman Maicer Izturis have played the majority of time at third instead. Mike Scoiscia has also used him a DH and the corner outfield spots, but there's a logjam there as well. Kendrys Morales has finally recovered from a broken leg suffered two years ago celebrating a walk off home run, and has been the primary DH. In the outfield, Vernon Wells, Peter Bourjos, and Torii Hunter are the primary starters. Bobby Abreu is also an option for outfield and DH, and super prospect Mike Trout had to be sent to the minors.

Wells has actually been one of their better hitters so far after a terrible season in 2011 when he batted .218. He came over in a trade with Toronto for Mike Napoli and the Angels picked up the rest of his giant contract until 2014. Trading Napoli created a big hole at catcher, and Chris Ianetta was traded for this offseason to fill. He's a improvement over last year, but not nearly as good as Napoli. The Angels middle infield is pretty solid with Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar, although Aybar is off to a slow start. As a team this year the Angels offense has been weak, batting .250 total with a .301 OBP so far. In 2011 the Angels batted .253 with a .313 OBP.

The Angels pitching is the strong point of this team, but some of their pitchers are off to slow starts. Their bullpen was a weak spot last year, and may be again this year. They added veterans LaTroy Hawkins and Jason Isringhausen to their bullpen, and they have pitched decently well so far. Lefty Scott Downs is still pretty sharp. But their closer Jordan Walden is off to a terrible start with a 8.31 ERA in 6 games. Walden blew 10 saves last year and has already blown one this year. The rest of their bullpen is shaky as well, especially with Izzy being one of their better relievers. Jered Weaver and CJ Wilson have started off very well, but Ervin Santana is off to a rough start. Dan Haren had a couple of bad starts, but is starting to turn it around.

This is a team that hasn't hit its stride yet, and they have alot of talent in Anaheim. However, just because you make a big splash in the offseason doesn't mean you win the pennant. The Red Sox added Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford before the 2011 season, and they collapsed down the stretch. The American League is tough, with the Rangers, Rays, Tigers, and Yankees. The Halos are going to have to get it in gear to compete with these teams. Personally, I hope to see the Angels miss the playoffs and for Pujols to watch the Cardinals win in October without him.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Humber pitches a perfect game

This Saturday, White Sox pitcher Philip Humber pitched the 21st perfect game in baseball history. Not a well known name, but Humber was once a highly touted prospect. He was drafted #3 overall by the Mets in 2004 after a dominating college career at Rice University. But, in his first season with the Mets Humber left a game early due to elbow pain caused by bone spurs. He then had Tommy John surgery. Humber was brought up to start a game during the Mets collapse in 2007, but did not pitch well. After the season, Humber was dealt along with some other prospects for Johan Santana.

Humber didn't do much with the Twins either, spending most of his time in the minors. He was allowed to leave as a free agent after 2009 and signed with the Royals. Even though the Royals pitching is weak, Humber wasn't kept around after the 2010 season. He then signed with the Athletics, but his stay was short and was waived a month later. Humber then signed with the White Sox and at age 28 was given a chance to start in the big leagues due to Jake Peavy's injury. Sox pitching coach Don Cooper helped improve his mechanics and got him to use a slider. Humber went 9-9 with a 3.75 ERA in 163 innings in 2011.

Still, Humber is a unlikely candidate to pitch a perfect game. But then again, Dallas Braden pitched a perfect game two years ago. Braden is known most for yelling at A-Rod for walking across the pitcher's mound. Don Larsen is best known for pitching the only perfect game in World Series history, but he had a career 81-91 record. Larsen pitched a perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series, and wasn't sure he was pitching until right before the game. Just two years earlier, he lost 21 games on a bad Orioles team before gettting traded to the Yankees. Larsen's perfect game was the only one between Charlie Robertson's in 1922 and Jim Bunning's in 1964.

Out of the 21 perfect games in history, only 6 of them had been done by Hall of Famers. John M Ward, Cy Young, Addie Joss, Bunning, Sandy Koufax, and Catfish Hunter. Randy Johnson is a certain Hall of Famer when elgilble and Roy Halladay looks to be on a Hall track as well. Johnson was also the oldest pitcher to pitch a perfect game at age 40. Dennis Martinez(El Presidente) is the only foreign born pitcher to pitch a perfect game, getting his in 1991 with the Expos. 12 of the 21 perfect games have happened since Len Barker's in 1981. David Wells claimed to be hungover during his perfect game in 1998. Missouri native Mark Buehrle also pitched one in 2009 with the White Sox.

Armando Gallaraga nearly pitched one for the Tigers in 2010, but umpire Jim Joyce blew the call at first for the 27th out. Gallaraga is currently out of the league now. Pirates pitcher Harvey Haddix pitched 12 perfect innings against the Braves in 1959, but gave up a run in the 13th to lose the game. Pedro Martinez pitched 9 perfect innings for the Expos in 1995, but gave up a leadoff double in the tenth and was replaced.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Pudge Rodriguez Retires

Longtime catcher Ivan(Pudge) Rodriguez will announce his retirement this coming Monday. He has played 21 seasons in the big leagues with the Rangers, Marlins, Tigers, Yankees, Astros, and Nationals. Rodriguez won 13 Gold Gloves and made 14 All Star teams during his career. Pudge also had a cannon for a arm and was and threw out 46 % of runners trying to steal out for his career. Rodriguez also won the American League MVP in 1999.

Pudge made his debut with the Texas Rangers in 1991 at the age of 19. By 1992 he was already an All Star and gained a reputation for a guy not to run on. His offense started to improve and by 1995 he was a .300 hitter. The Rangers won their first division title in 1996, and followed up by winning the division again in 1998 and 1999. 1999 was also Rodriguez best season. He batted .332 with 35 home runs, 113 RBIs, 25 steals, and had a 55% caught stealing pct.

Pudge was off to an even better start in 2000, but his season ended soon after the All Star break due to injuries. After the 2000 season, the Rangers signed free agent Alex Rodriguez to a massive ten year contract. Pudge wasn't as durable the last couple of seasons with Texas, although he still put up big numbers. Pudge was also elgilble for free agency after 2002, but the Rangers couldn't afford to keep him since they had so much money tied up in A-Rod.

Rodriguez couldn't find a long term contract offer to his liking, so Scott Boras got him a one year deal with the Florida Marlins so he could retest the market the next winter. Expectactions were low for the Marlins, and they were almost contracted a couple of seasons earlier. The Marlins even fired their manager Jeff Torborg midseason and replaced him with a over 70 years old Jack McKeon. However, the Marlins caught fire after that and won the wild card. They beat the Giants in the first round with Pudge tagging out JT Snow in a dramatic win. They also beat the Cubs in an exciting 7 game series in which the Cubs choked away a 3-1 series lead. In the World Series, the Marlins upset the favored Yankees in 6 games to win the championship.

2003 rebuilt Pudge's reputation and the Tigers gave him the long term deal he was looking for. Pudge nearly won the batting title in 2004, but cooled off in the second half. They were coming off an miserable 119 loss season in 2004. Things didn't get better overnight, but with some talented youngsters coming up and a few free agent signings the Tigers improved dramatically in 2006. Pudge played in his second World Series, but they lost to the Cardinals. Rodriguez made his final All Star team in 2007, but at age 35 he was clearly in decline. The Tigers traded him in midseason 2008 to the Yankees.

Only being a Yankee due to Jorge Posada being injured, Pudge signed with the Astros for the 2009 season. In August, the Astros traded Pudge to his original team the Rangers. He finished out 2009 with Texas, but they declined to keep him for 2010. The Nationals gave him a two year deal, and he finished his career their. The Royals offered him an invitation to spring training this year, but he declined it. Monday, Pudge will sign a one day contract with the Texas Rangers to retire a Ranger.

There should be no doubt that Pudge is a Hall of Famer in five years. He came close to 3000 hits, falling 156 short. He was a force both on offense and defense. The only catcher during his prime that rivaled him was Mike Piazza, and he wasn't the force on defense that Pudge was. Pudge ranks with the best catchers of alltime, with Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, Carlton Fisk, and Yogi Berra. However, there is steroid whispers about Rodriguez. Jose Canseco said he introduced Pudge, Rafeal Palmeiro, and Juan Gonzalez to steroids while playing for Texas. While being a rat, Canseco has been right about alot of these guys. When asked about being on the 2003 list of failed tests, Pudge replied, "only God knows". But it has never been confirmed he failed a test, and did not fail any tests since then. I wouldn't be surprised if Pudge did use at some point in time during his career, but he was one of the best catchers baseball has ever seen regardless. Before long there will be a juicer in the Hall if there isn't one in already.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ranking the 11 Cardinals Championship Teams

The Cardinals celebrated their 2011 championship season over the weekend and put up thier 11th World Series championship banner. The Cardinals are second alltime in World Series Championships, although its a distant second to the Yankees 27 championships. Their have also been some damn good Cardinal clubs that fell short of a championship, like the 2004, 1985, and 1968 versions. They also have never won back to back World Series despite all of the championships they've won and World Series they played in(18). In this post I'll attempt to rank the 11 championship clubs in Cardinals history.

11) 2006   Manager-Tony La Russa  Record:83-78
 Postseason Record and Opponents:11-5(Padres, Mets, Tigers)
 Top Players: Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina, David Eckstein, Jeff Weaver

After winning 100 games back to back, the Cardinals barely made the playoffs in 2006. In fact 83 wins in the least ever for a World Series champion. For whatever reason it seems like Tony La Russa's teams faired better as an underdog than a favorite. Edmonds and Rolen suffered some injuries during the season and Mark Mulder and Jason Isringhausen missed the postseason. However, this club beat the Padres in 4 games and beat the Mets in an exciting 7 game series. You might remember Adam Wainwright freezing new Cardinal Carlos Beltran with a killer curve. In the World Series the Tigers were heavily favored, but played sloppy baseball on defense. The Cardinals beat them in 5 games to win their 10th championship.

10) 1926  Manager-Rogers Hornsby  Record:89-65
PS Record and Opponent:4-3(Yankees)
Top Players:Hornsby, Jim Bottomley, Grover Alexander, Jessie Haines, Bob O'Farrell, Chick Hafey, Les Bell, Bill Hallahan

The Cardinals won their first National League pennant in 1926 just beating out the Reds. They faced the New York Yankees who were led by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Grover Alexander was the pitching hero in the Series winning 2 starts and Game 7 in relief. After winning Game 6, Alexander partied down and was reportedly sleeping it off in the bullpen the next day. Hornsby called on Alexander in the 7th to get out of a jam and he came through. Game 7 ended with Babe Ruth getting thrown out trying to steal second.

9) 1944   Manager-Billy Southworth   Record:105-49
PS Record and Opponent:4-2(Browns)
Top Players:Stan Musial, Walker Cooper, Mort Cooper, Whitey Kurowski, Marty Marion, Max Lanier, Harry Breechen, Ray Sanders

One might wonder why I would rank a 105 win team so low. The reason is because this happened in a weak league since alot of big leaguers were in military service in World War II. The Cardinals lost Enos Slaughter and Terry Moore to the military but still had a strong club. Musial himself would be drafted after the season. 1944 also marks the first and only all-St. Louis World Series, aka the Trolley Series. The Browns would move to Baltimore a decade later.

8) 1982   Manager-Whitey Herzog   Record:92-70
PS Record and Opponents:7-3(Braves, Brewers)
Top Players: Ozzie Smith, Bruce Sutter, Bob Forsch, Joaquin Andujar, Willie McGee, Keith Hernandez, Lonnie Smith, Tommy Herr

Herzog was in his second full season as manager and served as a GM before that and completely rebuilt the Cardinals. He emphasized speed, defense, and pitching and his style of play was coined as Whiteyball. After the 1981 season Herzog traded away All Star shortstop Garry Templeton(who had flipped the fans off late in the season) for defensive wizard and light hitting Ozzie Smith. Smith became a much better hitter in St. Louis and was a fixture at short for the next 15 years. The Cards battled the Brewers in the World Series, in what writers called the "Suds Series". The Cardinals won in 7 games and Bruce Sutter shut the door on the Brew Crew.

7) 2011  Manager-Tony La Russa  Record:90-72
PS Record and Opponents:11-7(Phillies, Brewers, Rangers)
Top Players:Chris Carpenter, Albert Pujols, David Freese, Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday, Rafeal Furcal, Yadier Molina, Jason Motte

The Cardinals were 10 games out in late August and it seemed highly unlikely for them to make a playoff run. But in September, the Cardinals caught fire and the Braves limped down the stretch. In the season's last game the Cardinals clinched the wild card. After getting clubbed in Game 1 of the NLDS, the Cardinals came back to beat the heavily favored Phillies in 5 games. Game 5 was a classic pitcher's duel featuring Carpenter and Roy Halladay, with the Cards winning 1-0. The Cards then faced their division rival Milwaukee in the NLCS. The Brewers talked up a big game, but the Cards beat them in 6. In the World Series they faced the Texas Rangers. Allen Craig and David Freese both came up with big hits throughout the Series. Game 6 was one of the best World Series games of alltime with multiple lead changes and 11 innings. The Rangers were a strike away from a championship twice, but the Cardinals came back to win. The Cardinals then went on to win Game 7 and the World Series. Freese had a postseason record 50 total bases and 21 RBIs.

6) 1964  Manager-Johnny Keane  Record:93-69
PS Record and Opponent:4-3(Yankees)
Top Players: Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Ken Boyer, Curt Flood, Curt Simmons, Tim McCarver, Julian Javier, Bill White

The Cardinals run in 1964 was eerily similar to their run in 2011. The Cards were 9 games back in mid September, but the Phillies were starting to collapse. The Cardinals also clinched the league championship in the season's last day. The Redbirds went on to face the Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris led Yankees and beat them in 7 games. That would be the last World Series the Yankees would make for 12 years and Cardinals manager Keane left St. Louis to manage the Yankees after the Series. Owner August Busch almost fired Keane in August and he refused to accept a one year deal after the season. Busch did fire GM Bing Devine in August despite making one of the best trades in Cardinals history, the Brock for Broglio trade.

5) 1934  Manager-Frankie Frisch   Record:95-58
PS Record and Opponent:4-3(Tigers)
Top Players:Dizzy Dean, Daffy Dean, Joe Medwick, Frisch, Ripper Collins, Pepper Martin, Leo Durocher, Bill Delancey

This team was known as the Gashouse Gang, probably because their uniforms were dirty most of the time. Dizzy Dean won 30 games and his brother Daffy won 19 games and they won all the games in the World Series. The Deans staged a holdout mid season to try to get more money from the club, but it failed. During a Cardinals blowout in Game 7, Medwick slid in hard on Tigers third baseman Marv Owen nearly causing a riot in Detroit. The commissioner had to eject Medwick from the game to keep the peace.

4) 1942  Manager-Billy Southworth   Record:105-49
PS Record and Opponent:4-1(Yankees)
Top Players:Enos Slaughter, Stan Musial, Terry Moore, Marty Marion, Walker Cooper, Mort Cooper, Ted Wilks, Whitey Kurowski

This would be the first of three straight National League pennants for the Redbirds. They beat the Yankees in 42 but lost to them the next year in a rematch. 1942 was also Musial's first full season in the big leagues. The Cardinals had the best farm system in the game during this period. They traded away Hall of Famers Joe Medwick and Johnny Mize in consecutive seasons and were still loaded.

3) 1931   Manager-Gabby Street   Record:101-53
PS Record and Opponent:4-3(Athletics)
Top Players: Jim Bottomley, Chick Hafey, Pepper Martin, Bill Hallahan, Burleigh Grimes, Frankie Frisch, Ernie Orsatti, Jimmie Wilson

The Cardinals lost the 1930 World Series to Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics and faced them again in 1931. The Athletics had won back to back championships and featured future Hall of Famers Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, Mickey Cochrane, and Lefty Grove. Rookie third baseman Pepper Martin had a monster Series going 12 for 24(.500) with 5 RBIs and 5 stolen bases. This would be the last hurrah for Mack's A's, he would soon sell off his top stars due to losing revenue because of the Great Depression.

2) 1946  Manager-Eddie Dyer   Record:98-58
PS Record and Opponent:4-3(Red Sox)
Top Players: Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter, Red Schoendienst, Harry Breechen, Howie Pollet, Del Rice, Marty Marion, Whitey Kurowski

This is one of the finest Cardinals clubs in history. Many of their stars had returned from the war as with the other teams in baseball. They battled the Red Sox and beat them in 7 games. Cardinals pitching limited Ted Williams to only five hits. Slaughter's mad dash home, going first to home scored the game winning run in Game 7. Harry Breechen also won 3 games during the Series. This would be the last championship team of the Musial era, though.

1) 1967 Manager-Red Schoendienst  Record:101-60
PS Record and Opponent:4-3(Red Sox)
Top Players: Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Orlando Cepeda, Curt Flood, Steve Carlton, Tim McCarver, Nellie Briles, Mike Shannon

This team was known as the El Birdos due to having a mixture of popular Hispanic and black players on the team. Cepeda won the NL MVP and the teams survived a broken leg injury to Gibson in midseason(a ball hit off Roberto Clemente). Gibson came back for the postseason and pitched brilliantly. He went 3-0, pitched 3 complete games, and only allowed 3 earned runs. Gibson would go on to have one of the best pitching seasons ever in 1968, recording a 1.12 ERA. The Cardinals would fall one game short of winning back to back championships in 68.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Is a Manager Like Ozzie Guillen Worth the Trouble?

Hard to believe, but Ozzie Guillen has already stirred up some controversy in his first year as Marlins manager. First, he claimed that he likes to drunk on every road game and has done it for over 25 years. Guillen would hardly be the first manager to do that. Billy Martin was a big drinker and got into fights with his players on a couple of occasions. Hall of Fame manager Joe McCarthy was a heavy drinker as well according to Ted Williams. Tony La Russa fell asleep drunk at a stop light once. I don't think his drinking is that big of a deal unless he starts drinking in the dugout.  His comments over the weekend praising Cuban president Fidel Castro are a big deal though. Maybe if he was still in Chicago he could of got by with that. But when you are managing in Miami were there is a large Cuban population, it is a problem. I'm not sure why he's commenting on Latin American politics in the first place, but its not the first time he's expressed admiration for Castro. The Marlins slapped him with a five game suspension, so he might refrain from praising dictators in the future.

As manager of the White Sox, Guillen was no stranger to controversy. He sparred with reporters, opposing players, management, and his own team. I would think this would wear a team down after awhile. His antics were a sideshow at times and drew unnecessary attention to his teams. The White Sox did have some success during his run, though. In his second season as manager the Sox won their first World Series in 88 years and he won a division title in 2008. But the last couple of seasons were dissapointing for the Sox.

Winning the World Series in 2005 gave Guillen alot of leeway. However, its unfair to the players to give Guillen all the credit. Without guys like Paul Konerko, Jermaine Dye, Mark Buehrle, Jose Contreras, and AJ Pierzynski they never would of won. The 05 Sox also won 99 games and went on a 11-1 run in the postseason. In the last few seasons there, Guillen and GM Kenny Williams relationship became strained. Its possible that atmosphere could of had a negative impact on the team as well.

Managers aren't as important as a head coach in football. There is no scheme that can make a bad ballclub into a good one. They do have an impact, but if they start tinkering too much it can be a negative one. I don't think it serves your ballclub well to stir up controversy and distract your team. Granted, more successful managers than Guillen have done that. La Russa was bad for antagonizing his opponents, although his teams were successful despite the drama. But even with La Russa, if his teams didn't have the talent they didn't win. Bobby Valentine is another manager who creates alot of drama, although he doesn't have the winning pedigree that La Russa or even Guillen had. I think a team is better off with a low key manager who communicates with his players well and has their respect like a Joe Torre or a Bobby Cox.

Guillen might be a type of manager that wears out his welcome after a few years in the Billy Martin/Dick Williams tradition. Martin was hired and fired five different times by Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, he also had brief stops in Minnesota, Detroit, Texas, and Oakland. He made the postseason with four of those teams, but his mouth got him fired from those jobs. Larry Bowa is a more recent example of a Guillen type manager I can think of. He has a chance to be successful in Miami because they have a talented ballclub. Sometimes, a team needs to have a fire lit under it. But, eventually that wears on a team and that manager will go elsewhere. I'm just glad that Guillen isn't the manager of the Cardinals.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Votto, Cain Sign Extensions

Earlier this week the Giants signed star pitcher Matt Cain to a six year, 126 million dollar extension. Right after that the Reds made Joey Votto a Red for life. Votto was eligible for free agency after the 2013 season, but the Reds signed him to a ten year, 225 million dollar extension that starts in 2014. Personally, I think baseball players get paid an outrageous amount of money. However, I don't feel sorry for the billionaire owners that spend the money. I'm a fan of the game and try to ignore the business side. But it is cool that teams are keeping their big stars. Just this offseason Matt Kemp, Yadier Molina, Andrew McCutchen, and Alex Gordon have all signed big extensions to stay with their original clubs.

I never would of thought a couple years ago that Votto would be a Red for life and Albert Pujols would take the free agent route out of town. With Pujols and Prince Fielder gone to the American League, Votto is clearly the best first baseman in the National League. He's already won a MVP, made two All Star teams in his 4 and a half big league seasons. He'll be the face of the franchise and now has the potential to be one of the best Reds players ever. But he will be 30 when his new deal kicks in. Todd Helton signed a huge deal a decade ago to stay a Rockie for life, and he had his best years before the big money kicked in. He's still a good hitter, but no longer hits for power like he used too and was paid $20 mil last year. 2011 was the end of that deal, but Helton and the Rockies agreed to a smaller deal for him to finish out his career their.

With Votto signed and multiple second base prospects in the Reds system, it looks like Brandon Phillips will walk after this year. Votto's deal is the fourth biggest contract of alltime, and the Reds aren't known as big spenders. Votto's deal was the third $200 million plus deal this offseason following the Pujols and Fielder deals. The Dodgers are probably upset by this deal, it was rumored that they would make a run for Votto since they got new ownership.

Cain got the biggest contract ever given to a right handed pitcher this week. The previous high was Kevin Brown's deal with the Dodgers over a decade ago. Brown was much older at the time than Cain is as well. Strangely, Cain has a career losing record at 69-73 but a lifetime ERA of 3.35. Cain suffered through two tough luck seasons in 2007(7-16, 3.65 ERA) and 2008(8-14, 3.76 ERA) on poor Giants teams skewing his record. He had a dominant postseason in 2010 pitching 21.1 scoreless innings. Cain has also posted sub-3.00 ERAs two of the last three seasons.

Matt Cain is a hell of a pitcher, but he's not even the best pitcher on his own team. I can't imagine what kind of money Tim Lincecum is going to get. He's signed for two more years and I would imagine the Giants are working on him next. But, he's going to want more than Cain got, so it will be interesting to see if the Giants are able to do that. Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke are probably both thrilled about the Cain deal since they are both eligible for free agency after the season.

Cardinal Notes: I know its only one game into the season, but the Cardinals looked impressive last night in Miami. Matt Holliday was held hitless and the Cardinals still won handidly. David Freese carried his knack for clutch hits over to this year going 3 for 5 with 2 RBIs. I was also pleased to see the Cardinals more active on the basepaths. Rafeal Furcal stole a bag, and Jon Jay attempted to but was thrown out. Kyle Lohse pitched a hell of a game last night as well. I'm not sure what that thing is behind center field in Marlins Park, but it is goofy looking.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Opening Day


The defending World Champion Cardinals and Marlins will open the season in the Marlins new ballpark this Wednesday. Strangely, it's a one game series. I've never seen a schedule one game series before, and the only time I've seen it is rainout makeup games and playoff tiebreakers. The Miami Marlins new look is terrible, those are probably the worst uniforms baseball has seen since the Angels late-90's Disney themed unis. The Marlins made big moves in the offseason, acquiring All Star shortstop Jose Reyes, left handed starter Mark Buehrle, closer Heath Bell, and starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano. They also hired former White Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen as manager. They already had emerging star Mike Stanton, ace pitcher Josh Johnson, first baseman Gaby Sanchez, and Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez is moving from short to third, although he was reluctant to do so. They have alot of talent in Miami, but an interesting mix of personalities and egos.

The Cardinals will be managed by Mike Matheny, and it will be the first time since 1995 that Tony La Russa wasn't filling out the lineup cards. Joe Torre and Mike Jorgensen were managers that year. Chris Carpenter will start the year on the disabled list due to neck stiffness. Skip Schumaker(oblique) and Allen Craig(knee) will also start the season on the DL. Kyle Lohse will be the Cardinals opening day starter, marking the second time he has had that honor. Rule V draft pick Erik Komatsu made the club over Adron Chambers, and non roster invitee Scott Linebrink made the team over Eduardo Sanchez. Apparently, Sanchez was sent down to Triple A to work on his command but I suspect he'll be up soon. Tony Cruz beat out Brian Anderson to be Yadier Molina's backup, and Matheny announced that Daniel Descalso and Tyler Greene will split time at second. The Cardinals opening day roster is listed below.

C-Molina, Cruz
IF-Berkman, Greene, Furcal, Freese, Descalso, Matt Carpenter
OF-Holliday, Jay, Beltran, Komatsu, Shane Robinson
SP-Lohse, Wainwright, Garcia, Westbrook, Lynn
RP-Motte, Salas, Rzepchynski, McClellan, Boggs, Linebrink, JC Romero

DL-C Carpenter, Craig, Schumaker

I would expect Shane Robinson's stay in the big leagues to be brief once Craig and Schumaker come back. Linebrink will have to pitch well to keep his roster spot as well once Carpenter returns. There are alot of hard throwing relief pitchers in the minors as well including Eduardo Sanchez. Top prospects Matt Adams and Shelby Miller will start out in Triple A. Potentially, the could see some time in the big leagues this year but will likely have to wait until September. Trevor Rosenthal impressed the team in spring training and threw in the high 90s, and he will skip High A and start off in Double A. Top hitting prospect Oscar Tavares and 2011 first round pick Kolten Wong will also skip High A after playing in Low A last year and start off in Double A. Unfortunately, relief pitching prospect Jordan Swagerty will have Tommy John surgery and miss the season. The Cardinals home opener isn't until April 13th, but its against the Cubs. It will be nice to raise another championship banner that weekend against our archrivals who haven't won a World Series since Theodore Roosevelt was president.

Jamie Moyer made the Rockies rotation at age 49, making him the oldest player baseball has had since Julio Franco in 2007. Omar Vizquel made the Blue Jays at age 45 as a utility infielder. Moyer and Vizquel are the last two players to play that made their debut in the 80s. Braves third baseman Chipper Jones has said 2012 will be his last season and Phillies first baseman Jim Thome will most likely being playing his last season as well. Roy Oswalt, Vladimir Guerrero, Johnny Damon, Edgar Renteria, Pudge Rodriguez, and Derrek Lee are all unsigned this year and may of played their final games last year. Oswalt seems to have the most left in the tank, and I would expect him to sign with some team. Jorge Posada announced his retirement earlier this year, and longtime teammate Andy Pettitte surprisingly decided to make a comeback about a month later. Posada, Pettitte, Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera are the last links to the Yankees dynasty under Joe Torre.